I think his feelings are valid, but to have such a big topic taken off-limits makes me feel distant from him, and it also prevents certain important logistical discussions, such as about where we're going to live when our lease expires.
Is it fair of him to ask me for this embargo, or should I insist he face his fears even though kids are years away?
Virginia: Don’t “insist” that he discuss something important, no. Instead, insist upon an answer from yourself:
Are you ready to be married to someone whose anxiety stands in the way of important conversations and decisions? And whose distress over a topic, including one brought up innocently and/or in passing, can ruin an entire evening?
This alone is a big enough issue for you right now, so take it on fully.
Including a determination that it is in fact anxiety, or at least asking him to seek one. You don’t even agree on the layman’s diagnosis, if I read you correctly.
Couples can live good lives together when they’re dealing with a health condition like anxiety, but they rarely do when they’re dealing with a significant disagreement on how to deal with a health condition like anxiety.
Don’t clutter up this important process, either, by trying to make a kid decision in the meantime, or by trying to make him make a kid decision, or by debating the merits of naming boys Elliott vs. Nick in the car on a cross-country road trip. Is he the guy? Is he the guy. That’s the only question here. The rest is TBD.
Re: Embargo: They're a couple years from getting married and Virginia is talking about baby names often enough for the significant other to request this? I think a little self-reflection from Virginia is also in order, on just how preoccupied they may be with something that's several steps removed. The SO could be 100 percent on board with a "baby in three years" plan but wants a chance to just be a couple in the interim, to enjoy one another as more than a planned baby production unit.
And the corollary to your answer — if Virginia doesn't see the two of them as a whole unit who love each other independent of baby-making, that's a problem that SO may need to leave over.
It is still the communication and compatibility problem you raised — that's just another side of the coin.
Anonymous: Fair enough — Virginia could be talking this future to a pulp.
If so, I hope Virginia takes extra care in weighing whether the right partner is one who’d rather ban a topic than “face his fears” about her.